Words by: DUNCAN QUINN
It’s always good to name things after
And for anyone who ever spent any time in the south of France the name of Paul Ricard will forever be associated with high octane afternoons of ice, anise and cloudy glasses as well as memories.
He, of course, is the “Ricard” of Pastis fame. That infamous French aniseed aperitif consumed all over the Mediterranean and beyond. Less known in the USA than its former competitor (and now sister brand) Pernod perhaps, but for the aficionados among us Ricard was and is “le top”.
Paul Ricard was born in 1909 in Sainte-Marthe, which was then but a small village north of Marseille. Passionate about chemistry and design, he enrolled in the Beaux-Arts (Academy of Fine Arts). At the age of 17, this son of a wine merchant learned the trade at his father’s side. Going from café to café, rubbing elbows with customers, he was inspired to invent his “own” pastis. Indeed, in Marseille in the 1930s, every bar owner made his own anise-based liqueur. But the inconsistent taste and cloying sweetness of the mixtures wasn’t pleasing to connoisseurs. Paul Ricard was determined to find the “ideal” formula.
|For over a year, he tested countless recipes. Every night in a make-shift laboratory, the young man would macerate fennel, aniseed and Provençal herbs, distilling, filtering, etc. His aim: to find the perfect flavor, one that captured the pure, fresh taste of aniseed. Finally, in 1932, his original recipe was born. Paul Ricard gave it his own name, ‘Ricard’, and set it apart it from all competitors by defining it as “the true Pastis of Marseille”.The quality and fresh taste of his aperitif are the result of this skilful (and secret) blend of aniseed, liquorice and aromatic herbs. Today, Ricard is the no. 1 anise-based spirit in the world.Paul also happened to have a love of motor racing. And so he took some of the oodles of loot he accrued from peddling high end moonshine to the masses and built a racetrack just north of Marseille. It opened in 1969 to much applause. The most modern, safest, and coolest track in its day. He had applied the same attention to detail and desire for perfection to the track as he had his anise. And the fact that it made for winter testing in the sun was all the better.|
Words by: DUNCAN QUINN
Redbull may give you wings, but, in the absence of being able to fly, a Vespa may just be your best bet.
In New York City this means you will duel daily with kamikaze taxi drivers piloting yellow missiles. You will probably have an altercation, or three, with the local tyranny known as traffic wardens. And you may occasionally get moist if it rains.
But all of this will be worth it.
As you will be smiling internally from ear to ear in a way that would put Lewis Carol’s Cheshire Cat to shame.
Bang for your buck, or frankly regardless of budget, there really is no way to get around in a more efficient way. Both in terms of cost (I averaged $7 per week in gas) or time (if you ride like a European, there really is no traffic).
You may suggest that these things are great for short runs, but rubbish at taking a trip up the freeway. And you would probably be right. Although I did once take a 150cc one from Miami to Ft Lauderdale in a pinch. And then there is the glorious 300 Super Sport I had a while back. At 90 miles an hour that shit eating grin is soon wiped off many a smug non-believer’s face. Especially as you and your girlfriend out drag his car all the way to cruising speed.
|This time around I was on the most beautifully marketed of the bunch, the 946. After all, what red blooded male could say no to taking this thing for a spin after seeing the iconic photo Piaggio launched it with in New York last year.The 946 is primarily a style statement. A nod to the sprezzatura of the original 1960s longtail Vespas of La Dolce Vita fame. She’s a beauty for sure. And certainly drew a few comments, and plenty of looks.At nearly $10,000 the pricetag is not to be sniffed at. But then style often comes at a price. Especially when it is a limited edition piece of style.Initially I was a little perturbed that I could not leave the aforementioned kamikaze pilots choking on my dust with ease from the traffic lights. But ultimately this did not detract from the fun and in some ways made it a little more interesting. Whereas the 300 Super Sport would literally blow away all comers, the 150cc engine in the 946 took a little more time to shimmy away from a standing start. That said, she’s no slouch. Allegedly reaching a top speed of around 60mph through the Park Avenue tunnel in Manhattan she certainly has a strong enough head of steam for anything you may care to think up within the city limits.And once you have one of these things, believe me, you’ll be dreaming up all kinds of reasons to pop out for a pint of milk.|
Words by: DUNCAN QUINN
I’m sure there is too much of a good thing. There’s certainly too much of something you think is a good thing but which others older and wiser tell you is a bad thing.
Like tequila shots for instance. Or that crazy ex.
Unfortunately as with most things of this nature it is tough to gain perspective without practice. Which is probably why I continue to go too fast and continue to think its a good thing.
After all, if God had intended us to go slow he wouldn’t have invented super cars. Or speed.
We seem to have entered a renaissance in the time of super, hyper and ultra cars.
Despite a focus on fuel economy, electric power for around town trundling, and
the race to escape fossil fuel, nothing has come this close to echoing the need for
speed last seen in the early 1970s just before everything went tits up, OPEC style.
Martini is back in Formula 1, Gulf is reverting to its old skool logo, stripes abound and brown is the new black for Porsches.
If Steve McQueen wandered in from the desert I probably wouldn’t even be that surprised. And he’d feel more at home than he would have done for years.
I even had a tango orange Aston Martin Vanquish to play with. And spotted another powder blue version
But this time around I was attacking the twisties of the Angeles Crest Highway 4000 feet up in a silver grey Volante rag top. The hair dresser of the stable. And yet still just as much fun as its more refined looking hardtop brother.
S button on. Suspension in track mode. Exhausts blaring. Wind blowing.
And of course, Led Zepp on the stereo.
It is the 1970′s again, after all.
Words by: DUNCAN QUINN
“If it flies, floats or f*!ks, rent it, don’t buy it,” said Tommy Earl Bruner in Dan Jenkins’ novel, Baja Oklahoma (1981).
Sage advice perhaps. If you are Scrooge McDuck.
On the other hand, if you’re of a slightly more hedonistic bent seeking to execute the bucket list you’ve see online (and add a few to boot) you’ll be wanting a Wally.
Forget all that crap about the two happiest days of a man’s life (day he buys boat, day he sells boat…). And just feast your eyes on this beauty.
Sublime in proportion, outrageous in execution, and perfection in motion, offloading several pallets of Benjamins on one will free you up for some fun.
And not just any old fun.
Even if you are the type who requires sea bands and a handful of dramamine you’d be hard pressed to convince me you’re not sold. And by the way, rum punch, ‘quinn & tonik’ or a dirty martini are probably just as good for your sea legs as those pills.
To any aesthete a Wally is a piece of art. The fact that you can frolic in one off the beach of your favorite watering hole in the SoF, Carib, Indian Ocean or other haunt of choice is merely an aside to the pleasures of looking at her.
Of course you want to take her out to ride the waves and battle the winds. And you must. For as with all dazzling beauties she’ll quickly tire of you if all you do is gawp without challenging her through her paces.
And so with this in mind, I found myself standing on the quay in Nice, France, as the tender blasted into view with my pal Ben Bartlett aboard. Ready to whisk me off to MC to indulge in some Wally love on the Hamilton. Great expectations are never a good thing to have. But sometimes even great expectations can be fulfilled…
Intro by: DUNCAN QUINNWords by: JOHN T. SCOTTand ROBERT ZARETSKY
I was having lunch with a friend only this week who has been reading the 48 Laws of Power. But just as with most things, its better to go to the source for the best version. Hence, here is a little something from two learned gentlemen on the continued relevance today of one of the finest pieces ever written on strategy. The Prince. By Niccolò Machiavelli.
This article first appeared in the New York Times on December 9, 2013.
FIVE hundred years ago, on Dec. 10, 1513, Niccolò Machiavelli sent a letter to his friend Francesco Vettori, describing his day spent haggling with local farmers and setting bird traps for his evening meal. A typical day for the atypical letter writer, who had changed from his mud-splattered clothes to the robes he once wore as a high official in the Florentine republic.
Toward the end of the letter Machiavelli mentions for the first time a “little work” he was writing on politics. This little work was, of course, “The Prince.” One of the remarkable things about “The Prince” is not just what Machiavelli wrote, but that he was able to write at all. Just 10 months earlier, he endured the “strappado”: Hands tied behind his back, he was strung to a prison ceiling and repeatedly plunged to the floor. Having at the time just been given the task of overseeing the foreign policy and defense of his native city, he was thrown out of his office when the Medici family returned to power. The new rulers suspected him of plotting against them and wanted to hear what he had to say. Machiavelli prided himself on not uttering a word.
He may well have saved his words for “The Prince,” dedicated to a member of the family who ordered his torture: Lorenzo de Medici. With the book, Machiavelli sought to persuade Lorenzo that he was a friend whose experience in politics and knowledge of the ancients made him an invaluable adviser.History does not tell us if Lorenzo bothered to read the book. But if he did, he would have learned from his would-be friend that there are, in fact, no friends in politics.
“The Prince” is a manual for those who wish to win and keep power. The Renaissance was awash in such how-to guides, but Machiavelli’s was different. To be sure, he counsels a prince on how to act toward his enemies, using force and fraud in war. But his true novelty resides in how we should think about our friends. It is at the book’s heart, in the chapter devoted to this issue, that Machiavelli proclaims his originality.
Set aside what you would like to imagine about politics, Machiavelli writes, and instead go straight to the truth of how things really work, or what he calls the “effectual truth.” You will see that allies in politics, whether at home or abroad, are not friends. Perhaps others had been deluded about the distinction because the same word in Italian — “amici” — is used for both concepts. Whoever imagines allies are friends, Machiavelli warns, ensures his ruin rather than his preservation. There may be no students more in need of this insight, yet less likely to accept it, than contemporary Americans, both in and outside the government. Like the political moralizers Machiavelli aims to subvert, we still believe a leader should be virtuous: generous and merciful, honest and faithful. Yet Machiavelli teaches that in a world where so many are not good, you must learn to be able to not be good. The virtues taught in our secular and religious schools are incompatible with the virtues one must practice to safeguard those same institutions. The power of the lion and the cleverness of the fox: These are the qualities a leader must harness to preserve the republic.
For such a leader, allies are friends when it is in their interest to be. (We can, with difficulty, accept this lesson when embodied by a Charles de Gaulle; we have even greater difficulty when it is taught by, say, Hamid Karzai.) What’s more, Machiavelli says, leaders must at times inspire fear not only in their foes but even in their allies — and even in their own ministers. What would Machiavelli have thought when President Obama apologized for the fiasco of his health care rollout? Far from earning respect, he would say, all he received was contempt. As one of Machiavelli’s favorite exemplars, Cesare Borgia, grasped, heads must sometimes roll. (Though in Borgia’s case, he meant it quite literally, though he preferred slicing bodies in half and leaving them in a public square.) Machiavelli has long been called a teacher of evil. But the author of “The Prince” never urged evil for evil’s sake. The proper aim of a leader is to maintain his state (and, not incidentally, his job). Politics is an arena where following virtue often leads to the ruin of a state, whereas pursuing what appears to be vice results in security and well-being. In short, there are never easy choices, and prudence consists of knowing how to recognize the qualities of the hard decisions you face and choosing the less bad as what is the most good.
Those of us who see the world, if not in Manichaean, at least in Hollywoodian terms, will recoil at such claims. Perhaps we are right to do so, but we would be wrong to dismiss them out of hand. If Machiavelli’s teaching concerning friends and allies in politics is deeply disconcerting, it is because it goes to the bone of our religious convictions and moral conventions. This explains why he remains as reviled, but also as revered, today as he was in his own age.
JOHN SCOTT AND ROBERT ZARETSKY are, respectively, the chairman of the department of political science at the University of California, Davis, and a professor of history at the University of Houston. They are the authors of “The Philosophers’ Quarrel: Rousseau, Hume and the Limits of Human Understanding.”
Words by: DUNCAN QUINN
Every now and again I am lucky enough to be extended an unusual invite. One which immerses me in a pool of talent and knowledge crafted over generations.
Distilled and refined through the ages to nurture and protect something special. And thus I landed at Harry’s in Hanover Square. As a lone interloper at a dinner to honor the indomitable Harry. And to bring the creme of Bordeaux’s wine producers to break bread together and hear about Harry’s plans.
Given my penchant for practicing the dark art of things which can never be perfected, what better chance to increase my knowledge of Bordeaux than to attend?
Harry came to New York from Greece to follow in the footsteps of an uncle he had heard had become incredibly successful. Unfortunately the truth didn’t quite align with the tales. So he soon found himself working as a busboy in a restaurant. Hard work and application brought for him the American dream. And his love of Bordeaux brought him respect. His integrity trumped his desire for money. So much so that if he didn’t think you would appreciate the extraordinary and also inordinately expensive wine you were ordering he would instruct the sommelier to tell you it was out of stock.
Which may explain in part the gathering of the great and the good of Bordeaux to break bread at his table. And hear others from his team regale of his plans. For with his son, Peter, the game is afoot. Eataly may be the bastion of Italian cuisine brought to Gotham by Mario Batali. But Harry is bringing 180,000sf of France into play. Restaurants, markets, bakeries. The best of all things French teleported to Manhattan. Complete with Michelin chefs, Grand Cru Classe wine, and patisseries made with enough butter to frighten the bejesus out of your cardiologist.
And what did I learn? Well. I learned never to enter a finger fight with a Count. Especially if the Count in question is the sartorial dervish of a charm offensive that is Stephan von Neipperg, Count of the Holy Roman Empire. A man who not only can talk the birds from the trees, but also take on the Most Interesting Man In The World and probably win.
Every now and again its good to up your game. And the best way is to choose to play with someone who can teach you a trick or two.
So I’m looking forward to a visit to Bordeaux soon. To learn more. After all, knowledge is power.
Words by: DUNCAN QUINN
The holy trinity of selling. And Alex Baldwin does it well. Impossibly well. But another combination springs to mind which we decided to fully investigate in the balmy climes of Los Angeles while New York was buried in snow and ice.
Auchentoshan. Burns Night. Chateau.
For good measure we threw in a few other ABC’s. Aston Martin. Bowmore. Cohiba. And then went off piste spoiling everyone involved with spoons full of Pointy Snout Caviar and a fountain of Krug.
It’s become a family tradition to draw together a merry band of thieves to celebrate the life of the original Scot’s playboy, Robert Burns, in January every year. And when in need of an excuse for a party his greatest legacy may be not only his philosophical poetry but a fine excuse to gather together kindred spirits while imbibing some serious spirits.
Thus we ended up in Los Angeles to get to grips with a particularly fine Aston Martin DB9 in the mornings and a triumvirate of hand crafted and special scotch in the evenings.
Auchentoshan is one of only three surviving lowland malt whisky distillers. Triple distilled just north of Glasgow it was the easy starter for ten of the night closely followed by Glen Garioch and Bowmore. Suddenly Burns Night had turned into a haggis fueled whisky tasting. Bowmore Oyster shooters, haggis, bagpipes and carefully controlled chaos.
Highlights of the night? Johnnie Mundell the master of malt, a full haze of Cohiba Comidors at full steam, and an illicit run to No Vacancy to close them down for the night.
Words by: ROBERT COLLINS
Published in 1989, two years after The Bonfire of the Vanities shone its fictional light on Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe, this is Lewis’s giddy, addictive inside account of the yearshe spent as a Salomon Brothers bond trader in the insanely profitable sweet spot of the mid-1980s.
A quarter of a century after it came out, it’s still the all-time rogues’ bible of unbridled, unfettered corporate excess. It’s The Devil Wears Pinstripes and Braces with Big Golden Dollar Signs on Them. (Lewis wore a pair on his first day at Salomon. The braces were red. He was told to take them the fuck off. “Managing directors are the only guys who can get away with wearing suspenders.”)
The bawling, badass bond merchants of Salomon Brothers were the guys that Tom Wolfe watched in bloody action when he was researching The Bonfire of the Vanities
Lewis, instead, lived it. He was one of those guys. He ate with them. He got trained by them. He got shouted at by them. And then, finally, he became one of them.
That’s the reason Liar’s Poker remains such a gluttonously readable book. As an appalled, impassive observer, Lewis explains in detail all the trickery, all the underhand finagling, all the mad financial instruments that were so avidly invented, used and thrown away again to make these Salomon hustlers so much green.
But while he was standing around watching the greatest money-making machine in history churn itself into overdrive, Lewis also became — of course — one of the monsters he was trying to describe: another 25-year-old salesman grappling his way up the blood-spattered corporate pole as he made a quarter of a million bucks a year.
Big Swinging Dicks. Food-frenzy Fridays. The Human Piranha (a trader who explained his market philosophy with insights like: “If you fucking’ buy this bond in a fuckin’ trade, you’re fuckin’ fucked”). It was all here. And Lewis hated and loved and noted down every last minute of it.
It’s as though for the two heady, snarling years he was smoking the Salomon’s crack pipe, Lewis just couldn’t resist hanging around to watch this end-of-Rome spectacle of Wall Street’s biggest bond-trading behemoth being driven into the earth by the most venal, self-serving manager assholes ever to overindulge an expense account.
Thank God he did. His book is one of those lucky, sempiternal classics, like Michael Herr’s Vietnam war book Dispatcheswho sees the horror in front of him and is as fascinated as he is disgusted by what he witnesses. Out of it he wrote this brilliant, funny, indelible bit of reportage about what greedy guys get up to at the corporate all-you-can-eat buffet., in which a moment of history is captured by a young reporter
It’s the reason Liar’s Poker is still the book that every aspiring Gordon Gekko wants to read as a how-to manual to saving your hide in the junk bond jungle.
Because, even as Lewis describes his own slide down the slope of his own personal apocalypse (he high-tailed it out of Salomon at the start of 1988) he still makes it sound like the most gloriously exciting time in the most exciting place that has ever existed in human history.
What better way to arrive for a dinner built around the wines consumed by James Bond in “Goldfinger” than an Aston Martin.
Words by: DUNCAN QUINN
A Bentley may well have been the motor of choice of Fleming’s Eton educated Bond, but Cubby Broccoli’s milkman from Edinburgh began with a preference for Astons. And despite the odd dalliance over the years the DB mark still seems to be the screenshot of choice.
Hence the Aston Martin DB9. Big sister to the sublime Vanquish we cleaned the cobwebs out of in LA not so long ago. And although the DB9 is a little more built for comfort than speed, she’s no slouch. In fact, it would be a crime to suggest so. When you plant your right foot the spitfire-like V12 spools up into life catapulting you up the road with more than enough oomph to relocate your spleen. And like all true GT cars the oomph just keeps coming until you’re so far past the speed limit you may as well just keep going and not look back.
Agile in the same way that a large cat defies inertia, the huge Pirelli boots she wears guarantee she’s glued to the road. It’s all about the journey, not just the destination.
With more horses than Saxon & Parole she seemed the perfect steed to arrive, tuxedo’d up to the max to imbibe and inspire the lucky few with a few tall tales of James Bond like prowess out in the woods of upstate New York.